While National Football League players and other athletes took a knee and United States President Donald Trump took a pass on everything that’s really important in the past few days, I repeatedly read and heard that the United States of America is “the greatest country in the world.”
Excuse me? You mean “world” as in planet earth? Third rock from the sun? Terra firma?
I mean, the only people who believe the U.S. of A. is the cat’s meow when it comes to countries are the people who actually live in the self-anointed land of the free and home of the brave. The rest of us? Not so much.
No doubt the U.S. of A. has its endearing qualities. Off the top of my head, I can think of two—Jimmy Stewart movies and Patsy Cline tunes.
Americans talk like they invented and bottled freedom. And, to be sure, they have the freedom to choose one liar over another in their presidential election, Vlad (The Bad) Putin’s influence notwithstanding. They’re also free to take a knee, pack a sidearm, brew weak beer, make fun of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, root, root, root for the Cubbies, and give the Yankees the Bronx cheer. But celebrity justice, the world’s largest collection of Elvis impersonators, a scavenger (bald eagle) for a national symbol, and an addiction to war aren’t exactly what I’d call selling points.
Let’s be clear. I’m not here to bash America. Love the place. Had wonderful times there. Love the people, especially in the Midwest where the constituents remind me of good Canadian prairie stock. But that “greatest country in the world” stuff is a bit much. The U.S. of A. is the global great like Homer Simpson is a card-carrying member of the Mensa Society.
In its annual rankings of the best countries in the world, U.S. News and World Report lists Switzerland, Canada, the U.K., Germany, Japan and Sweden ahead of the United States.
Forbes magazine has the U.S. at No. 23 on its list of best countries to do business.
In the Freedom in the World rankings from Freedom House, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Iceland, U.K., Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Japan and Germany rate higher than Uncle Sam.
In a U.S. News and World Report survey of millennials, Canada was chosen the best country in the world. The U.S. was fifth.
Best country to live: Australia first and Canada second (America wasn’t in top five).
Best country for dating: Brazil came out on top (America wasn’t in top five).
Best country to start a career: China, Germany and then the U.S.
Best country to be an immigrant: Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Norway. (U.S. seventh.)
Lifestyle9 rated the best countries in the world to live: Monoco is first, Canada fifth, the U.S.A. 11th.
Best quality of life in the world (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development): Norway, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada. The U.S. came in at ninth.
Best health care: Andorra, Iceland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway (U.S. 35th).
I searched over, under, sideways and down (apologies to the Yardbirds) to find a source that listed the Republic of the United States as the “greatest country in the world” and I discovered the grand sum of zero. Only in select categories does the U.S. top any list—plastic surgery, breast implants, filthy rich people, death by violence, small arms imports/exports, and prisoners.
Oh, there’s one more: Taking a knee.